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8th Air Force 246

3 March 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A combined force of 748 heavy bombers are despatched to bomb the primary targets of Berlin, Erkner and Oranienburg, Germany, but weather and dense contrails forced most of the formations to turn back or seek Targets of Opportunity (TOs). 1st Combat Wing (91BG; 381BG and 389BG) turned around and flying through dense contrails met formations of 4th CBW. 3 aircraft were lost in mid-air collisions during this encounter. Mission Summary follows:

1st Air Division: 260 B-17s from: 91BG; 92BG; 303BG; 305BG; 306BG; 351BG; 379BG; 381BG; 384BG; 401BG; 457BG and 482BG are despatched. Only 61 aircraft are effective on the industrial and port areas of Wilhelmshaven, Germany as a Target of Opportunity (TOs). 3 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 15KIA 15POW. 3 airmen in returning aircraft were WIA. The bomber gunners claim 3-1-1 of attacking German aircraft.

3rd Air Division: 295 B-17s are despatched from: 94BG; 95BG; 96BG; 100BG; 385BG; 388BG; 390BG; 447BG and 452BG. Only 14 managed to bomb a Target of Opportunity. 6 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 33KIA 24POW 3RTD (rescued by ASR). 2 airmen in returning aircraft are KIA. There are no other losses, casualties or claims in this element.

2nd Air Division: 193 B-24s are despatched from: 44BG; 93BG; 392BG; 445BG; 446BG; 448BG; 453BG; and 458BG. Only 4 managed to bomb a Target of Opportunity (TO). 2 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 20KIA. 1 battle damaged aircraft was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) when it crashed on takeoff - 3KOM 7RTD. There were no other losses, casualties or claims in thise element.

457th BG MISSION NO 7 - BERLIN, GERMANY

3 MARCH 1944

The 457th returned to Erkner and the V.K.F. ball bearing works. The Group comprised the low box of the 94th Combat Wing and six craft were provided for the high box. Major Watson was Air Commander and Lt. Bender was pilot.

The weather again proved to be a deterrent and prevented the bombing of the target. Due to heavy cumulus clouds topping 28,000 feet, the Group was unable to locate the 94th Combat Wing and later joined the 41st Combat Wing, which had only two boxes. After crossing the Rhine River between Cologne and Coblenz, the preceding wings turned back and headed toward England. No bombs were dropped, but the six aircraft assigned to the 94th Combat Wing high box did drop on an unidentified target by PFF methods. Results were not observed due to heavy cloud cover. Enemy resistance was moderate, primarily flak over the coastal area. All aircraft returned and damage was minor.

Mission details

1.

Description

BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

All Groups despatched are from 3rd Bomb Division. It has not been determined which Groups from 3rd Bomb Division attacked this target. Heavy contrails and clouds prevent bombing.

Units

  • 100th Bomb Group

    100th Bomb Group

    Group
    "The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...

  • 385th Bomb Group

    385th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9...

  • 388th Bomb Group

    388th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 388th Bomb Group flew strategic bombing mission from Knettishall, Suffolk from June 1943 to the end of the war. During this time, though, detachments were sent to Fersfield, Norfolk to conduct Aphrodite missions. In these Aphrodite missions veteran...

  • 390th Bomb Group

    390th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 390th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Framlingham, Suffolk, between July 1943 and the end of the war in Europe. The Group was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This...

  • 447th Bomb Group

    447th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 447th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses on strategic bombardment missions out of Rattlesden, Suffolk. With their first mission coming near the close of 1943, their main focus was hitting sites that would weaken enemy forces connected with a...

  • 452nd Bomb Group

    452nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 452nd Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deopham Green, Norfolk, from January 1944. The air crews hit strategic sites in Germany but also supported the movement of ground forces across Europe after D-Day. On 6 June 1944 itself, the Group...

  • 94th Bomb Group

    94th Bomb Group

    Group
    Activated 15-Jun-1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. Initial organisation and training at Pendleton Field, Oregon on 29-Jun-1942; Primary flight training at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona from 28-Aug-42 to 31-Oct-42 than at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas from...

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 34-96
Number of aircraft Sent 295
Number of aircraft Effective 14

2.

Description

BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

All Groups despatched are from 2nd Bomb Division. It has not been determined which Groups from 2nd Bomb Division attacked this target. Heavy contrails and clouds prevent bombing.

Units

  • 392nd Bomb Group

    392nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 392nd Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators out of Wendling, Norfolk from August 1943 until April 1945. They were the first Group to be given B-24H Liberators, the first B-24 model that was fitted with a nose turret on the production line, an adaptation...

  • 445th Bomb Group

    445th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 445th Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators from Tibenham, Norfolk. The crews' first mission was bombing U-boat installations at Kiel on 13 December 1943. The Group continued to hit strategic targets in Germany, including the aircraft components factory...

  • 446th Bomb Group

    446th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...

  • 448th Bomb Group

    448th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 448th Bomb Group was a B-24 Liberator Group that flew out of Seething, Norfolk. The Group flew their first mission on the 22nd December 1943 and over the next eighteen months the air crews flew 262 missions over occupied Europe. These bombing...

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 453rd Bomb Group

    453rd Bomb Group

    Group
    As well as strategic bombardment missions, the 453rd Bomb Group also ferried cargo on two occasions. They hauled petrol, blankets, and rations to France in September 1944 and dropped ammunition, food and medical supplies near Wesel during the airborne...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 9.99
Number of aircraft Sent 193
Number of aircraft Effective 4
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 26
Number of people Wounded in Action 8
Number of people Returned To Duty 7

3. BERLIN (Primary)

Description

INDUSTRIAL AREA

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Weather and dense contrails force most of the formations to abort. None hit Berlin and most of those that bomb hit Wilhelmshaven and 14 are forced to bomb targets of opportunity. Groups participating are those of 1st Bomb Division.

457th BG MISSION NO. 6 - BERLIN, GERMANY

3 MARCH 1944

The Eighth went to Berlin for the first U. S. daylight raid on the city, although weather conditions were far from favorable. The 457th dispatched twenty-one bombers to Erkner, the home of the V.K.F. ball bearing works, sixteen miles from the center of Berlin, which manufactured over 7% of the total enemy production of ball bearings. The Erkner facility had taken on major importance since the raids on Schweinfurt.

The 94th Combat Wing led the Eighth with the 457th flying the low box. Major Henry B. Wilson was Air Commander and Lt. Vinton H. Mays was pilot.

Heavy cloud formations extended as high as 29,000 feet and dense persistent contrails made formation flying practically impossible. The 457th failed to effect assembly with the 94th Combat Wing and attached itself in the low position of another two box wing. The Group continued with this position until a recall message was received. Lt. Eugene H. Whalen had failed to make assembly with the Group and attached his craft to the 92nd Bomb Group. His became the only 457th aircraft to bomb; he was able to see a section of the city through the broken undercast.

Group members witnessed the collision of two B-17s from another group. An unknown group came out of a cumulus cloud on a collision course with the 457th. Two of the planes collided and exploded at an altitude of approximately 25,000 feet. The resulting concussion bounced the aircraft piloted by Lt. Robert L. Wetherald considerably, and burned the fabric off the elevators and left aileron.

All aircraft returned to the base without further incident.

Units

  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    Group
    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Group
    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 379th Bomb Group

    379th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 379th Bomb Group, based at Kimbolton, flew more sorties than any other Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and dropped a greater bomb tonnage than any other Group. The B-17 Flying Fortress Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the...

  • 381st Bomb Group

    381st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 381st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Ridgewell, Essex between June 1943 and April 1945. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing shipyards at Bremen, whilst under heavy attack, on 8 October 1943 and...

  • 384th Bomb Group

    384th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 384th Bomb Group flew B-17s from Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, between May 1943 and June 1945. They were engaged in daylight bombing missions over Germany as part of the Allies' efforts to destroy the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe by...

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...

  • 457th Bomb Group

    457th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 457th Bomb Group began combat operations during the Big Week of 20-25 February when American bombers carried out concentrated raids against German aircraft bases, factories and assembly plants. The air crews' targets on that first mission were...

  • 482nd Bomb Group

    482nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 482nd Bomb Group was a Pathfinder Group, which using radar-equipped aircraft to support bombing missions until March 1944. Aircraft from this Group went ahead of other Bombers and sent information back about the best routes to take and the extent...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    Group
    The 92nd Group's 327th Bomb Squadron was the only Eighth Air Force squadron to fly YB-40s in combat. YB-40s were B-17s modified to fly as a heavily armed escort for other bombers. They were flown on missions between May and June 1943. Between May 1943...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 0.00
Number of aircraft Sent 419
Number of aircraft Effective 0
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 15
Number of people Wounded in Action 3
Number of people Prisoners of War 15
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 3
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

4. ERKNER (Primary)

Description

INDUSTRIAL AREA

Aircraft type

Not yet known

Notes

Not yet known

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 0.00
Number of aircraft Effective 0

5. ORANIENBURG (Primary)

Description

INDUSTRIAL AREA

Aircraft type

Not yet known

Notes

Not yet known

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 0.00
Number of aircraft Effective 0

6. WILHELMSHAVEN (Opportunistic)

Description

HARBOUR INSTALLATION

Aircraft type

Not yet known

Notes

It has not been determined which Groups from 1st Bomb Division attacked this target.

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 152.32
Number of aircraft Sent 61
Number of aircraft Effective 61
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 6
Number of people Killed In Action 35
Number of people Prisoners of War 24
Number of people Returned To Duty 3

Service

People

  • Edwin Carmell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Edwin Carmell served as a co-pilot with the 563rd Bomb Squadron of the 388th Bomb Group, flying missions out of Knettishall, England.

  • Donald Cooper

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 390th Bomb Group
    Shot down 13 April 1944 in B-17 #4231691. Landed in Switzerland. Interned.

  • Harold Craddock

    Military | Staff Sergeant (Technician Third Grade) | Right Waist Gunner | 458th Bomb Group
    Presumed lost in the North Sea on a mission to Berlin, GR on 3 Mar 1944 in B-24H #41-29298. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Jack Donahue

    Military | Sergeant (Technician Fourth Grade) | Radio Operator, Radio Operator Gunner | 458th Bomb Group
    Presumed lost in the North Sea on a mission to Berlin, GR on 3 Mar 1944 in B-24H #41-29298. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Bernard Dopko

    Military | Flight Officer | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    The crew baled out of B-17G #42-37839 'Little Willie' after flak set the plane on fire on a mission to Berlin on 9 Mar 1944. The a/c crashed NE of Oranienburg, GR. Prisoner of War (POW). Retired from the USAF as a Captain.

  • Charles Gordon

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier/Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Charles Gordon flew 17 missions as a navigator and 18 as a bombardier with the 44th Bomb Group, flying missions out of Shipdham, England. ...

  • Glen Hartzell

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | general maintenance, spare bomber gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

  • Roy Island

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group

  • Julius Naber

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Shot down 29 April 1944 in B-24 #4129471. Killed in Action (KIA). PH

  • Beauford Smith

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Beauford Smith was from the coal mining camp town of Insull, KY. He was good friends with and attended Black Star High School with Harold A. Brassfield. Brassfield was KIA on 6 March 1944 flying with the 388th BG. Smith and Brassfield were able to...

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Aircraft

  • 42-31969

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 8/1/44; Billings 14/1/44; Savannah 24/1/44; Assigned 381BG Ridgewell 6/2/44; transferred 369BS/306BG [WW-F] Thurleigh 22/2/44; Bombardier: F/O Dominic Giosso (KIA-pilot was Bill Tarr) 26/3/44; Missing in Action Berlin 8/5/44 with...

  • 42-37839 Little Willie

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 20/9/43; Gr Island 14/10/43; Assigned 563BS/388BG [ -D] Knettishall 26/10/43; Missing in Action Berlin 9/3/44 with Bernie Dopko, Co-pilot: Gene Krifka, Navigator: Glenn Cederstrom, Bombardier: Bill Kelly, Flight engineer/top turret...

  • 42-37886 Blitzing Betsy

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 2/10/43; Gr Island 21/10/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 25/10/43; Missing in Action Berlin 6/3/44 with Lowell Watts captured by civilians, Co-pilot: Bob Kennedy, Navigator: Emmett Murphy, Bombardier: Ed Kelley, Flight engineer...

  • 42-7522 Southern Comfort

    B-24 Liberator

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
17 February 2016 18:56:42 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 17-Feb-2016. Added 457BG notations to this Mission from mission on 4-Mar-44. See 8th AF Mission 247 notes and source citations.

Date Contributor Update
16 February 2016 20:05:21 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-2016. Added bomber gunner claims on enemy aircraft to Berlin element per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
16 February 2016 20:01:56 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-2016. Corrected statistics for 2AD TOs per "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
16 February 2016 19:56:42 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cuningham 16-Feb-2016. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman, "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop and John A. Hey MBE; and MACRS.

Date Contributor Update
13 May 2015 13:19:39 general ira snapsorter Changes to event
Sources

Mission detail added courtesy of Diane Reese - http://www.457thbombgroup.org/Narratives/MA6.html

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:11 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Lee Cunningham, 8th Air Force missions research database / Stan Bishop's 'Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces', the Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces and the work of Roger Freeman including the 'Mighty Eighth War Diary'.

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